Mohs surgery, also referred to as Mohs micrographic surgery, is a specialized surgical procedure. It is considered to be one of the best methods for treating non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs). American physician and general surgeon Dr. Frederic E. Mohs developed this technique in the 1930s. This technique allows the progressive removal of a tumor in thin layers until no cancer remains. The goal is to get rid of the cancerous tissues and leave as many healthy ones as possible.

Is Mohs Surgery Right for You?

Mohs surgery is generally recognized as the benchmark for treating NMSCs found in the face, phalanges and genital areas. Mohs surgery is also often recommended for skin cancers that are extensive, are aggressive and irregular, or have reappeared following the first treatment. Some surgeons have also been successful in using this treatment method on certain cases of melanoma.

Why Mohs Surgery Could Be Your Best Option

  • Precise. The doctor can examine 100 percent of the tumor margins, spare healthy tissues, and leave the smallest scar possible.
  • Cost-Effective. Although Mohs surgery is sometimes arduous, it uses local anesthesia. In addition, the surgery can be completed in one visit with all the necessary lab work done on-site.
  • High Cure Rate. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the technique’s high precision helps decrease not just scarring but also the chances of needing additional surgery. In fact, clinical evidence revealed that Mohs surgery leads to a significantly higher cure rate for nonmelanoma skin cancers as compared to conventional surgical excision.

What Happens During Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is normally done in stages, including lab analysis, in one visit.

(1) It starts with the surgeon examining the spot where you had your biopsy. He or she will likely mark it with a pen for reference and then position you for the best access, such as sitting up or lying down. A surgical drape will be placed over the surgical site, and a local anesthetic will be administered to completely numb the area.

(2) Using certain surgical techniques, a visible portion of the tumor and a thin layer of surrounding skin will be removed. A dressing will be used to cover the cut or incision, so you can wait comfortably.

(3) In a laboratory, the surgeon will use a microscope to examine the tissue sample. This is to find out if there are still any cancer cells left underneath or around its edges. If so, the surgeon will have to remove another deeper layer of the tissue for analysis, but this is only taken from exactly where the cancer cells originated.

(4) The removal process shall continue until there are no longer any cancer cells left in the area while preserving the maximum amount of surrounding healthy tissue.

(5) Once the cancerous cells have been successfully eliminated, the excision will be closed either by letting it heal on its own or using surgery, like a primary closure, skin flap, or skin graft. For extensive wounds, your doctor may recommend consulting a plastic surgeon for reconstruction.

Possible Risks and Side Effects

Although the risk of complications after Mohs surgery is low, it is not impossible for patients to feel certain side effects. Side effects can happen any time from during the procedure to weeks later. Risks associated with Mohs surgery may include scar formation, swelling, infection, pain, tenderness, a burning sensation, excessive bleeding, bruising, poor wound healing, or nerve damage, such as numbness.

At Complete Family Dermatology, Dr. Geoff Basler and Brent Behrens, PA-C take every measure to ensure that skin cancer treatment administered is effective and patient care is compassionate. To see if Mohs surgery is an option for you or a loved one, contact our office today.

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